Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - August 26, 2008

From: Grafton, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Strange growth on oak tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

i have a very strange round segmented growth on a tree in my yard. i think the tree is a chinkapin oak and the growth is a reddish color. it looks like a ball with suction cups on it. it is very strange looking thing and I have not been able to id it anywhere!

ANSWER:

It sounds as if your tree has a gall.  This is a growth that the tree makes in response to an insect or another organism such as a mite or a fungus.  Many galls are caused by an insect laying its eggs in the tree.  The insect hatches inside the gall growth, feeds on the growth and then emerges from the gall to continue its life cycle.  Here is more information about oak galls from the University of Kentucky and here is a Gallery of Common Galls from North Carolina State University.  Your growth sounds a bit like a horned oak gall.  If you don't find your growth in one of these links, please send us a photo and we will do our best to identify it.  Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Note from Mr. SP:  After this answer was posted, someone else sent us a photograph that sounds very much like the gall described above.  We submitted the photo to BugGuide.net and asked if anyone could identify it.  Someone did identify it as being made by a gall wasp, Adleria quercusstrobilana, in the (Family Cynipidae), laying its eggs in the stem of the tree.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Is it normal for the bark to fall off an oak tree in Austin, TX
May 02, 2013 - Is it normal for live oak bark to fall off when touched? I am afraid to get near them?
view the full question and answer

Pruning oaks in August from Pflugerville TX
April 30, 2011 - Can I do minor pruning on my Lacey oak and bur oak in August if it is hot and dry? I'd like to prune one limb from each. The Lacey oak limb is about 2 inches in diameter, and the bur oak limb is ab...
view the full question and answer

Falling Balls from an Oak in Kingsland TX
May 25, 2015 - I have a large Live Oak in the back yard, with St. Augustine grass under it. It is April 3, 2015. The leaves have fallen and now little tiny round balls are falling. I am hearing a popping noise und...
view the full question and answer

Weeping live oak and beetles in Elgin TX
April 24, 2011 - I have a live oak that I just noticed is weeping from a small spot about 3' above ground, foamy and smells like beer, several beetle species attracted. Also some very small insects in the foamy area.
view the full question and answer

Something killing evergreens on Long Island from Baldwin NY
June 06, 2011 - What seems to be killing so many of the evergreens on Long Island - see more and more dying each day - doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason - can it be helped? Many thanks.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.